, Volume 406, Issue 2, pp 555-564
Date: 20 Nov 2013

Lipidomic profiling of plasma in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection

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Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global health issue. Although its progression is reported to be closely associated with lipids, the way in which the plasma lipidome changes during the development of chronic HCV infection in humans is currently unknown. Using an improved quantitative high-throughput lipidomic platform, we profiled 284 lipids in human plasma samples obtained from healthy controls (n = 11) and patients with chronic HCV infection (n = 113). The intrahepatic inflammation grade (IG) of liver tissue was determined by biopsy. Two types of mass spectrometers were integrated into a single lipidomic platform with a wide dynamic range. Compared with previous methods, the performance of this method was significantly improved in terms of both the number of target sphingolipids identified and the specificity of the high-resolution mass spectrometer. As a result, 44 sphingolipids, one diacylglycerol, 43 triglycerides, 24 glycerophosphocholines, and 5 glycerophospho-ethanolamines were successfully identified and quantified. The lipid profiles of individuals with chronic HCV infection were significantly different from those of healthy individuals. Several lipids showed significant differences between mild and severe intrahepatic inflammation grades, indicating that they could be utilized as novel noninvasive indicators of intrahepatic IG. Using multivariate analysis, healthy controls could be discriminated from HCV patients based on their plasma lipidome; however, patients with different IGs were not well discriminated. Based on these results, we speculate that variations in lipid composition arise as a result of HCV infection, and are caused by HCV-related digestive system disorders rather than progression of the disease.


Flowchart of the lipidomic platform

Feng Qu and Su-Jun Zheng are co-first author. Jin-Lan Zhang and Zhong-Ping Duan are co-correspondence author.